It's almost Halloween, which means it's time for us to take a deep dive into the world of archaeology, in search of terrifying discoveries that don't so much belong in museums as they do in horror movies.
It's a given that archaeologists excavating a tomb or graveyard are going to find bodies -- it'd be freakier if they didn't, frankly. The only small comfort they have is that those bodies are going to be skeletons. No mushy stuff, no maggots, no red fluids for the internet to drink up, just piles of dusty bones laying around like musty Halloween decorations.
That is, unless those bodies were buried with some kind of copper adornment, in which case you get this:
What you're looking at here is a baby's arm dating back to the 1800s, which was recovered from a graveyard in Hungary. That's not 1800s as in military time, but as in nearly 200 years ago. So what's the deal? Well, copper -- for a bunch of complicated science reasons -- is great at preserving body parts ... but only the body part that it's touching. Which leaves archaeologists in the unenviable position of occasionally stumbling across green-tinged masses of preserved flesh. Like these 1,000-year-old mummies that were buried wearing copper masks, which preserved their faces just enough to scar you for life.
Or how about this lung, which was preserved by a copper belt laid across the body of its owner prior to their burial? And so you don't think we've already run out of steam, take a look at this entire man who died in 550 during a mining collapse. As luck (read: the Universe's grim sense of humor) would have it, this was a copper mine, so his body was semi-preserved until he was found in 1899 by some people whom we're guessing went the rest of their lives without eating anything green.
As you've probably heard, the next decade is going to see global warming go from behind-the-scenes menace to center-stage ass-kicker. This is really bad news, not just because, you know, the whole "demise of humanity" thing, also but because the last enclaves of our species are going to be haunted by centuries-old soldiers washing up on their shores. At least, that's what's going on in the Alps.
During World War I, the Alps were the site of the "White War," a major, three-year-long battle between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces fought atop mountains, glaciers, and ice fields. The conflict ended with the armistice, but with the world heating up recently, climbers have been finding mementos like weapons, diaries, love letters, and trinkets. Oh, and bodies. Lots of bodies.
It all started in 2004, after a local guide discovered three preserved Austro-Hungarian soldiers locked in the ice -- more specifically, locked in an ice wall and looking remarkably like they'd spent the last century trying to snatch unsuspecting climbers.
This discovery kicked off a flood of wartime corpses, with one source estimating that 80 are discovered every year. Like these two Italian soldiers buried top-to-toe in a ravine, complete with bullet holes in their skulls.
Still, it's not like many men died up ther- 150,000 casualties, you say? Welp, time to build a gargantuan ice wall and man it with celibates.
Back in 2016, a contractor working in San Francisco unearthed a metallic cigar-shaped box while excavating the floor of a garage. His mind whirring with thoughts of treasure, alien artifacts, or at least giant cigars, he decided to take a closer look ... and found himself staring into the cold dead eyes of a mummified two-year-old girl.
After a lengthy investigation, it turned out that the girl -- dubbed "Miranda Eve" -- was buried sometime between 1870 and 1890 in a graveyard that once stood on the property. So does this mean that neighborhood is littered with corpses? Surprisingly, no. In the 1930s, every casket in the graveyard was excavated and moved across town to a new one, but Miranda Eve (real name Edith Cook) got left behind like a morbid Home Alone fanfic. The airtight nature of her metal burial case preserved the body, as well as a small cross of flowers that'd been lain in the casket prior to burial.
After the mystery was solved, the girl was reburied. We hope they put in an envelope containing details of this case, or else we're unnecessarily punishing the people destined to find her body again in 2118.
If you know basic folklore, or have binge-watched Supernatural, you'll know all about hellhounds. If you don't know all about hellhounds, they are exactly what they sound like. It's a good name. Of course, they're nothing more than a myth. A campfire story told to gullible youngsters, not something you're likely ever going to come across in the real wor- JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.
This was the nightmare sight that greeted one group of loggers back in the 1980s, who looked into a tree and suddenly found themselves with an all-consuming desire to change their underwear. It's thought that the hound is actually a hunting dog from the 1960s who chased its prey up inside the tree and became stuck. The tree then dry-preserved the corpse, because chestnut trees are a natural source of tannin, a desiccant that absorbs moisture.
See? Every day is a learning day. Even if you really wish it weren't.
Earlier this year, scientists excavating Las Llamas, Peru stumbled across something no archaeologist (or indeed, any profession outside of "clown") wants to find: dead kids.
They unearthed the remains of 140 kids , aged between five and 14, all of whom had been sacrificed over 500 years ago for reasons that no one can quite work out. How do we know they'd been sacrificed? Well, all of the children had their chests ripped open and their hearts removed. A closer inspection of the bodies also revealed that their faces had been smeared with red dye prior to their execution, and that despite being healthy, none of them tried to escape their grim fate. It seems insensitive to compare this whole thing to Temple Of Doom, so we have no idea how this clip made it into the article.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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